The Grimalkin: A Halloween cat tale

Oct 20, 2023

The Grimalkin: A Halloween cat tale

Halloween is almost upon us, and what could be a more purr-fect way to embrace the eerie atmosphere of the season than by immersing ourselves in a chilling tale that intertwines witches, felines, and a touch of Celtic folklore?

There exists a peculiar legend of cat witches known as the Grimalkin, that has instilled a sense of unease for countless generations.


But what exactly is a Grimalkin? 

Grimalkin is an archaic term that was often used to describe cats; particularly haggard, female cats. During the 16th Century witch trials, cats became associated with the devil and witchcraft. Women on trial in Scotland were frequently accused of having a familiar, a ‘demon in disguise’, which was often a Grimalkin.  

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Legend has it that a chosen cat willingly offers itself to the witches, which then undergoes a profound transformation through a dark and potent ceremony, emerging as a Grimalkin. 

The transmogrification takes place on a moonless night, deep within the heart of an ancient forest, where a coven of witches gathers to perform a ritual to bestow extraordinary powers upon their chosen furball. 

Once transformed, the Grimalkin is said to possess the ability to shape-shift at will, taking on the form of a beautiful woman by day and a fearsome cat by night. This duality allows them to blend seamlessly into the human world, all the while keeping a watchful eye on their chosen prey and connection to the witches.

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The Grimalkin are said to harbour a deep-seated grudge against humanity for perceived wrongs committed against them in the past. They seek retribution and are not above using their supernatural powers to achieve it.

The first record of the Grimalkin is in William Baldwin’s ‘Beware The Cat’ published in 1570.

This solidified the spooky connection between witch and cat, and the term Grimalkin was born. This is also where many believe in the myth that cats have nine lives originates from. References continued to pop up in gothic literature and poetry, most famously in Shakespeare’s Macbeth where a cat named Grimalkin is summoned by the three witches, and in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. 

A series of superstitions and rituals developed to protect from these malevolent creatures. It is said that keeping a horseshoe above your door or a broomstick by your hearth can ward off the Grimalkin. Some even believe that carrying a small bag of salt or iron nails will deter these cat witches from crossing your path.

Grimalkin remain a formidable force in Celtic folklore. They are a reminder that the line between the mundane and the supernatural is often thinner than we might imagine. 

Happy Halloween, and beware the Grimalkin!  🐾 

Munchie playing with his Spider Teaser Toy

Want to get your cat in the Halloween spirit? Take a look at our collection in the Cheshire & Wain Halloween Shop